This Syrian Refugee Defied ISIS Death Threats to Dance Ballet
“When I dance, I feel like a king.”
He has been threatened by ISIS, beaten, and abandoned by his father, all because he wanted to dance.
Born and raised in a Syrian refugee camp, 27-year-old Ahmad Joudeh lives his life by one motto: “dance or die”.
Since leaving Syria, Joudeh has performed around the world with the Dutch National Ballet.
His newest work commemorates the obstacles he overcame in order to pursue his talent and spreads the message of his life motto.
Joudeh collaborated with French singer Sanga to write and choreograph the song “Dance or Die.”
The music video depicts Joudeh’s passion for ballet and features short clips of his dancing, but he has performed longer “Dance or Die” routines for crowds in front of the Eiffel Tower and outside the Paris Opera House.
Joudeh has even used ballet to speak out against ISIS, who stormed his village in 2015 and threatened to kill him if he continued to dance. While still in Syria, he performed in the Palmyra theatre, where ISIS previously held public executions.
Read More: 27 Famous Men Who Are Proud to Be Feminists
Despite the backlash against his art, Joudeh says dancing gives him strength, and reminds him of his worth.
“I am prepared to fight all my life for the feeling that dancing gives me. It’s a feeling of freedom,” he told The Guardian. “Being a Palestinian refugee, born in a camp, I always felt inferior to other people. But when I dance, I feel like a king.”
To Joudeh, his life is not defined by his hardships or refugee status; he is a ballet dancer, and nothing less.
"I felt when I danced for the first time this is who I am," he says. "I was born as a refugee in a camp. Now the whole world calls me the dancer. That's what I always wanted to be: the dancer."
Here's What Pussy Riot's World Cup Protest Was Really About
Since 2011, Pussy Riot has been a leading voice of dissent in Russia. Read More
23 Nelson Mandela Quotes That Remind Us Ending Poverty Is Possible
"Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision." Read More
France's Kylian Mbappé Donates World Cup Earnings to Kids With Disabilities
The 19-year-old powerhouse is a sports hero and a humanitarian. Read More